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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,604 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Charles P. Pierce Narrator: Bronson Pinchot Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: December 2010 ISBN: 9781470803193
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The culture wars are over and the idiots have won. This is a veteran journalist’s caustically funny, righteously angry lament about the glorification of ignorance in the United States.

The three Great Premises of Idiot America:

– Any theory is valid if it sells books, soaks up ratings, or otherwise moves units.
– Anything can be true if someone says it loudly enough.
– Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it.

Charles Pierce has led a career-long quest to separate the smart from the pap, and now it’s time to try and salvage the Land of the Enlightened, buried somewhere in this new Home of the Uninformed. With his razor-sharp wit and erudite reasoning, Pierce delivers a gut-wrenching, side-splitting lament about the glorification of ignorance in the United States and how a country founded on intellectual curiosity has deteriorated into a nation of simpletons more apt to vote for an American Idol contestant than a presidential candidate.

With Idiot America, Pierce’s thunderous denunciation is also a secret call to action, as he hopes that, somehow, being intelligent will stop being a stigma and that pinheads will once again be pitied, not celebrated.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A raucous rant against the armies of the Right…Pierce is at his scathing, insightful best.”

    Boston Globe

  • “A lively and, dare I say, intelligent study of the ongoing assault on gray matter.”

    New York Observer

  • “[A] witty and pointed indictment of our nation’s disturbing ability to vilify smart people and elevate chowderheads to positions of power and influence.”

    Salt Lake Tribune

  • “There is only one Charles Pierce, and while that may be a good thing, it is also a damn good thing we have his unique combination of gonzo, erudition, fearlessness, and eloquence to help us make sense of a senseless world. I stand in awe, and appreciation.”

    Eric Alterman, author of Why We’re Liberals and When Presidents Lie

  • “Pierce penetrates, and the world feels less idiotic already.”

    Roy Blount, Jr., author of Alphabet Juice and Long Time Leaving

  • “There’s a guy down at the end of the bar who’s furiously angry, hilariously funny, and has an Irish poet’s talent for language. He’s been traveling the country, and he’s been alternately appalled and moved by what he’s found there, and, lucky you, he wants to tell you all about it. Listen.”

    Peter Sagal, author of The Book of Vice and host of NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me

  • “Charles Pierce takes us on a brilliant and hilarious tour of the back roads of American idiotocracy through history—skewering Atlantis-seekers, evolution deniers, jackasses, nincompoops, and right-wing know-it-alls with his trademark sledgehammer wit. Reading Pierce’s Idiot America, I laughed myself stupid.”

    Amy Dickinson, author of The Mighty Queens of Freeville

  • “Engaging…Pierce delivers a rapier-sharp rant on how the America of Franklin and Edison, Fulton and Ford has devolved into America the Uninformed.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “For a good (if painful) laugh about creationism and other bits of American lunacy, try Charles Pierce’s Idiot America. It’s a funny, sly version of an argument made recently by Al Gore in The Assault on Reason, and by the brilliant Susan Jacoby in The Age of American Unreason.”

    John A. Farrell, USNews.com

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Susan | 2/17/2014

    " For all the left wingers out there. I listened to this one, skipped through some parts. I enjoyed the sections on popular culture (the scourge of reality tv, right wing talk radio, etc.) more than the historical stuff. The author just went into a little more detail than I could pay attention to in my 40-minute commute. Though, as a whole, I tend to like books like this. About how stupid we've all become. Perhaps that says more about me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chuck O'Connor | 1/31/2014

    " Good and straight-forward explanation why the current GOP platform is dangerous. It exposes how our collective lack of critical thinking privileges emotional reasoning for the sake of truth and fact. History and science based in evidence become secondary to imagined ideas that make us feel good. This is a natural by-product of a nation built on imagination and free speech but the notion of "faith" as "fact" is over-riding our ability to self-govern. The writing becomes a bit repetitive (he loves the word apotheosis much too much) but the argument is clear and supported with current events that bring home the danger that just because one feels something true doesn't make it so. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Scott Finley | 1/20/2014

    " "The potent narcotic of reassuring simplicity..." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Denis Kaufman | 1/19/2014

    " Just finished this book and I liked it. Makes a compelling case that the anti-intellectual streak in American life has become an assault on knowing what you are doing, period. Examples include the Terri Schiavo case, wherein the opinions of doctors who acftually treated Ms Schiavo, her husband who saw her almost every day, the judges who ruled on her case after exhausting deliberations, etc, meant nothing once the media chose to make a circus--and the wingnuts decided to make a cause--of it. Other examples abound, including teaching evolution or teaching "the controversy", race to war in Iraq, defense of torture by Antonin Scalia (who actually quoted Jack Bauer) and so on. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Charlotte Anne | 1/13/2014

    " It could not hold my attention and I gave it back to the library after renewing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pete | 1/13/2014

    " Judging by the first few chapters you might fear the book would devolve into a liberal snarkfest, but stick with it - Pierce soon gets into some serious, scathing journalism, especially in his chapters on the Terry Schiavo case, global warming denial and the Iraq War boondoggle. On the whole, Idiot America makes for sardonic, maddening, important reading. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alan | 1/2/2014

    " Pierce shows how the conservative political machine merged with fundamental Christianity and the media to create an anti-intellectual narrative that appeals to people who don't like to read books or think for themselves. The thesis is that the right wing crazies in this country gained influence over people by promoting 2 key ideas: a) if many people believe something, it must be true; and b) lies are truth if people say them loudly enough. With this lens Pierce examines many episodes of craziness in the last 15 years, including: Rush Limbaugh talk radio and Fox news, creationism and attacks on evolution, the Terry Schiavo incident, candidacy of Sarah Palin, attacks on the reality of climate change, the fraudulence of starting a war in Iraq, and the promotion of torture of prisoners. I was afraid the book would be depressing but Pierce's writing has a sense of humor that lightens the story of politics in the 21st century. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Susan Clark-cook | 12/26/2013

    " He presents a creditable argument for the dumbing down of American, and a frightening view of the results of that. It left me feeling a little sad, and had several great lines such as this one uttered by a proponent of the intelligent design debate (? if it can be called that) " we have been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of our culture". He was setting that up as a bad thing, enough said. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jeremy | 11/28/2013

    " Just some well-researched rantings. Expected more. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 VioLeT | 11/24/2013

    " Highly entertaining and yet horrifically depressing that, yes, we do live in Idiot America. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rob | 10/19/2013

    " Enjoyed this book as it gave me those "Ah Ha" moments. Critical thinking has disappeared from much of the thinking today and Mr. Pierce points that out in a humorous way. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chester | 10/7/2013

    " Great writing and a sardonic turn of phrase. Really interesting analysis. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kristen | 7/24/2013

    " It started off well but then I got super bored. Life is too short to read books that bore me, so I quit. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bryan Nothem | 7/15/2013

    " Good concept, good writing, funny, and had wonderful insight on Great American Cranks "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 J | 5/17/2013

    " Hilarious (and concise) history of how cranks and wackos have influenced America from the country's inception to the present. Gaspingly funny while being informative. Must. Read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Aaron Lord | 12/16/2012

    " The title and introduction are awesome, but then the author spends too much time talking about people not exactly relevant to the contemporary conversation. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Leslie | 9/8/2012

    " An excellent take on how the "crazies" and the conservatives have taken over America. He uses our history as far back as the writers of the Constitution to show how the framers knew this was coming and tried to prevent it! Charles Pierce writes in a very easy to read style. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jen | 12/11/2011

    " The chapter on the systematic marginalization and dismissal of expertise after 9/11 in favor of what a few guys wanted ....and lied to the UN and Congress and all of us to get ...is one of the most horrifying and depressing things I've read in maybe ever. All those young lives. All that money. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Janelle V. | 10/20/2011

    " I thought of Mark Twain and his pen warmed in hell when I read this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David | 6/2/2011

    " Funny, scary, morbid, and sobering. A well researched and well written look at modern (north) America and the prevalence of plain stupidity. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gabriela | 5/3/2011

    " The writing and organization of the book could use some work, but I highly enjoyed it. The stories presented fit perfectly with Pierce's thesis and idea of the book. It was also hilarious. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Maurice | 5/1/2011

    " Mostly a condemnation of the teaching of creationism in America. Reminds us that America has always been a haven for idiots and lost causes. Unfortunately, now we have the internet to broadcast these crazy ideas far and wide. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tiniqua | 4/26/2011

    " Be afraid, be very afraid. This book is a real wake-up call and makes abundantly clear that what was once the greatest nation on earth is rapidly sinking into swamp of stupidity. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Don | 4/25/2011

    " When I started this as a library book I thought it would be just another funny book by a funny guy. Turns out it brings along a number of important concepts about America and what our society has become. It is somewhat ironic that I finished reading it on "rapture day". "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ian | 4/20/2011

    " Frighteningly true. And with the rise of the Tea Party getting truer by the minute. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robert | 4/11/2011

    " An attack on commercialism as much as anything else - this is not an assault on religion (only fundamentalism forcing it's way into the main stream on issues such as science), or even on cranks ( just the comical drive to use cranks to ll 'units'). "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Steve | 4/11/2011

    " Anyone who has wondered why America is being dumbed down will enjoy this book. It might make you mad. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bryan | 4/5/2011

    " Good concept, good writing, funny, and had wonderful insight on Great American Cranks "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jim | 3/26/2011

    " While a little over the top at some times, a very good commentary on our times. I particularly enjoyed the different perspectives from the Elian Gonzalez affair, I had not heard those stories at all. Puts perspective on all of the information comming at us. "

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About the Author
Author Charles P. Pierce

Charles P. Pierce is a staff writer for the Boston Globe Magazine, a contributing writer for Esquire, and a frequent contributor to American Prospect and Slate. His work has also appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Los Angeles Times Magazine, Nation, Atlantic, and Chicago Tribune, among other publications, and he is a regular on NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me and Only a Game.

About the Narrator

Bronson Pinchot, an Audie Award–winning narrator and Audible’s Narrator of the Year for 2010, received his education at Yale University, which filled out what he had already received at his mother’s knee in the all-important areas of Shakespeare, Greek art and architecture, and the Italian Renaissance. He restores Greek Revival buildings and appears in television, film, and on stage whenever the pilasters and entablatures overwhelm him.